A little over a year since the construction of the Tel Aviv light rail began,
13 prominent businesses in the city have filed a lawsuit against the State of Israel, the NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System and the Tel Aviv municipality, claiming financial damages caused by the construction.
Among the plaintiffs are the Tachtit café on Lincoln Street, a 4Chef branch and the restaurant Olive on Carlebach Street, and the restaurant Mi Vami on Menachem Begin Street.
“This lawsuit has been filed by businesses that have suffered severe damages as a result of the construction that has been done, and continues to be done, to build a light rail line in Tel Aviv, from August 2015 to August 2016. During these months, extensive construction work was carried out close to the businesses of the plaintiffs. The construction work has been and continues to be carried out while seriously, and at time severely, damaging the countless businesses along the route of the planned light rail,” the suit alleges.
According to the suit, the construction of the light rail in Tel Aviv entails extensive digging along the planned route, significant reducation of public transportation in the area, blocking of entrances to the businesses, and limited access to private vehicles.
In addition, the plaintiffs claim dirt and dust also affected their businesses, asking “Who wants to sit and eat in the mess and dust of a construction site?”
The construction work also caused a significant reduction in foot traffic in the area, leading to less customers visiting their businesses, the suit alleges.
The restaurant Olive claims cumulative damages amounting to some NIS 1.4 million; the Tachtit cafe claims cumulative damages amounting to some NIS 540,000; Mi Vami claims cumulative damages amounting to some NIS 339,000; and Coffee Organization,”a company that markets coffee and is located on Mikveh Israel Street, claims cumulative damages amounting to some NIS 1.6 million.
The plaintiffs claim the respondents did not create mechanisms that would enable carrying out the construction work without causing damages to the businesses in the area.
The business owners are also seeking financial damages over municipal taxes, which they claim they had to pay despite not receiving basic municipal services during that time.
The business owners state in the suit that they also reserve the right to sue again in the future for any additional damages they will suffer starting September 2016.
Statements of the defense have not been filed yet.
The Tel Aviv municipality said in response: “The lawsuit was recently received. The municipality is studying it and will respond to it in court.”
NTA said in response: “NTA, as a government company, is committed to facilitating the daily business operations in the area of construction as much as possible, and works as much as possible to allow easy accss to drivers, public transportation commuters and pedestrians. The decision regarding compensation to the businesses is made by the appropriate government ministries.”